Adirondack Outdoors Spring 2015 Issue : Page 44

BY KEVIN MACKENZIE A SPRING BUSHWHACK OF MT. REDFIELD: TRIAL OF THE ANGRY MOUNTAIN Rich McKenna walks up the drainage stream towards the pond below Redfi eld. M any of us anticipate spring when the mountains shed their wintry burden of ice and snow. The process can be beautiful as well as fraught with surprises for the unseasoned hiker. The snowpack often clings longer than one might envision with conditions signifi cantly different at eleva-tion than at the trailhead. It was spring of 2009 when my friend Rich McKenna and I decided to bushwhack Mt. Redfi eld from Skylight Brook. It is a harrowing trip in the best conditions, but we stumbled into a misadventure riddled with lessons and sce-narios fi t for a campfi re story. Our trips together are often trials, but that is part of the fun. Thus, we planned a route that led off trail over subjectively unknown terrain. The multiple water crossings required for this outing are normally not a problem. I was an unseasoned camper at the time and decided to experiment with new gear combinations. This contributed to a few of my initial diffi culties and still amuses Rich to no end. The forecast was fair, much of the snow had melted from the High Peaks, and we believed our overall plan was sound. SPRING 2015 ISSUE Leaving the Allen Mountain trailhead in Upper Works at 8 p.m. set us up for a nighttime water crossing of the Opalescent River several miles from the trailhead. The bridge was miss-ing and what remained of the snowpack was melting. Would the current be too strong, the river too deep? Upon arrival we found that fording the river would be challenging, but probably not dangerous. We entered the cold currents at 10 p.m. after unbuckling the waist straps on our packs in case we slipped. We were soaked to our bellies by the time we reached the other side, but success stoked our humor even though Rich submerged and ruined his camera. What could go wrong now? The answer -farther along, we mistook a small drainage for the herdpath. Losing our way was merely an inconvenience since we were comfortable off-trail even in the dark. It wasn’t long before we were back on track and setting up camp near Sky-light Brook. I erected a sil-nylon tarp and readied my bedroll. Tensioning a tarp properly takes practice and I failed miserably as Rich’s chuckles proclaimed the next morning -in essence 44

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